What does the JFK assassination teach us about the public’s apparent perception of denial of PTSD & moral injury?

by | Nov 14, 2013

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Cognitive Dissonance is a term used by social psychologists to describe the feelings of discomfort one feels when confronted with information that is in conflict with one’s world view or paradigm.

Is cognitive dissonance at the root of PTSD denial…  Quote from this website article…

Cognitive Dissonance is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is real, if you don’t believe me simply raise either topic in a public forum and sit back and observe the anger that is most often the result. The concept is, that our World View is akin to a psychological defense system and when events or concepts disagree with that view, we often feel as though our fundamental belief’s are being attacked, such as who assassinated JFK.
If we think of our World View as a mental and emotion home and agree that most people will do anything to defend their home, then we can begin to see why the JFK assassination cover-up creates so much anger. Everyone has felt emotional fear due to events or concepts that we disagree with, this occurs when we are taken out of our comfort zone and thrust into the conceptual wilderness. Our foundation of how the World works begins to crumble and fearing the unknown it triggers the fight or flight instincts inherent in all of us.”
I was deep into an 8 hour daily instructional regimen while enrolled in the US Navy Radioman A School at the Naval Training Center in San Diego the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Like millions of Americans, I cried in disbelief.  We loved President Kennedy and considered him one of our greatest leaders.  Innocence died on that day and changed America forever…  America’s core beliefs were shattered and what ensued were more assassinations of great leaders, including Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, along with many scandals starting with Watergate.  How does this event connect the dots with America’s apparent denial of the realities of moral injury and PTSD? 

We are just beginning to make significant progress breaking down the barriers of cultural denial and stigma that have persisted for decades, especially during World Wars and other conflicts, including Korea and Vietnam during the 20th Century.  When we drill down more and connect the dots we can more easily understand why.  “Cognitive Dissonance is a term used by social psychologists to describe the feelings of discomfort one feels when confronted with information that is in conflict with one’s world view or paradigm.”  It is often almost impossible to break through the wall of denial and the strong human belief system to advance new ideas.  We tend to put our heads in the sand, and walk away…

PTSD denial was so apparent in WWII that General George S. Patton slapped two soldiers who were recovering from a diagnosis of “Battle Fatigue” during WWII.  He later apologized after being ordered to do so by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The “suck it up” mentality was alive and well for decades, including growing up as a post WWII military child.  And we all are paying a big price today with the lingering effects of inter-generational PTSD.

Until just a few years ago my belief system and cognitive dissonance was so strong that it took a major personal crisis to get the necessary attention for action.  It is time once again to remind ourselves of the value of shifting the paradigm to make way for positive change…change that can have exponential benefits to future generations.  We often go through this process of paradigm shifting in the world of technology and entrepreneurship, and know the huge benefits to quality of life and productivity.  I am encouraged that we are now seeing the enormous benefits of understanding PTSD and moral injury.  The evolving new PTSD awareness and treatment strategies are beginning to take hold and will benefit the human condition forever…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…


About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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